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Jackson wins second straight defensive award

Jackson wins second straight defensive award

Jackson wins second straight defensive award

DETROIT -- Jose Iglesias will reign soon enough as the Tigers' defensive stalwart. For purposes of the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year honors, however, he didn't play enough in Detroit to qualify this year. Austin Jackson did.

With that in mind, Jackson topped the formula used by Wilson to earn the Tigers' honor for the second consecutive year.

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The awards began last year in an effort to blend advanced metrics with scouting information to try to determine the best defensive players on each team in a given season, as well as the best in each league. Half of the formula is a mix of Defensive Wins Above Replacement and Defensive Runs Saved. The scouting portion comes from Inside Edge, a firm that provides advance scouting information to teams.

Under most any formula, including the naked eye, Iglesias would win the award. His tumbling barehanded stop and throw against the White Sox in August earned Web Gem of the Year honors from ESPN, and his range at shortstop places him among the best in the league.

The one stat that worked against him was games played. Players needed 80 with their respective clubs to qualify for consideration. He only had 46 for Detroit after arriving in a July 30 trade from Boston.

That left a very limited field of candidates, the two main ones being in the outfield. Though Andy Dirks was a finalist for an American League Gold Glove Award in left field this year based on his statistics, Jackson had a combination of factors working in his favor.

One was Jackson's range, which has always rated highly based on how much ground he covers at home in Comerica Park. The second was Defensive WAR. While it wasn't high among the league leaders at his position, his 0.7 Defensive WAR was high for his team, according to baseball reference.

Jackson's three Defensive Runs Saved, according to Fangraphs.com, ranked him third on the team behind Dirks and Ramon Santiago. However, Santiago split his games around the infield.

Jackson's defensive stats have actually taken a dip the last couple years since earning a Fielding Bible award for the best center fielder in Defensive Runs Saved in 2011. He saved 29 runs that season, according to the formula, but just five in 2012. Likewise, his Ultimate Zone Rating has fallen from 7.8 to 3.5 to minus-3.8. For this year, however, he has remained the Tigers' best defensive everyday player.

Judging on the last two-plus months, Iglesias will probably change that in 2014.

The GIBBY trophy for Defensive Player of the Year will be awarded as part of the 2013 Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards, which are based on voting by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni and the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as fan balloting on MLB.com.

Voting launched on Oct. 31 and will continue through Dec. 1. Fans will be able to cast their ballots at MLB.com for the year's top defensive star, with no individual league affiliation.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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